Punking Your Kids: How a Chrome Extension and the Eucharist are Helping Me “Dad”

I’ll admit that technology sometimes serves me well as a “babysitter”.

I hate that.

I work two jobs. My wife works the equivalent of about thirty – albeit from home but that sometimes makes it harder; with she and the kids in the same physical space. Typical scenario: I pick up the kids from school, bring them home, get them a snack and started on any homework. Wife is working in her office. I get called for my next job and have to run out the door. Wife is on a conference call. Kids somehow end up using my laptop, her phone, or some jerry-rigged amalgamation of tin cans and a LAN cord and the next thing you know they’re on Youtube.

Don’t get me wrong, Youtube is kind of a go-to for me these days. We cut the cord. For those of you not in the know, that means we have no life cable TV. But truthfully, I’m not dissatisfied with what I have to watch on Youtube. And the Youtube seems to know me well, too. For instance in my suggested watch list is a series about conspiracy theories (heavy on the JFK stuff), talks by Fr. Chad Ripperger (an exorcist), and anything having to do with flying, landing, or even the crashing of airplanes. Don’t judge.

For my son it’s usually Super Mario Bros. “walkthroughs” where some loser gamer literally plays a Mario game for hours explaining how he’s making it through those levels. For my daughter it is a brain damaged twit named Wengie. Wengie hurts my brain. Wengie lowers my IQ. I tell my daughter this. Despite my hatred of her tweeny-pop saccharine nonsense and penchant for unicorns, glitter, slime, and glitter-slime unicorns I’ve still memorized the lyrics, music, and dance steps for her hit song Icing on the Cake and I sing the same to my little girl when I wake her up for school.

The reality is they really aren’t on these “devices” for too long of a stretch and my wife and I do keep pretty good eyes on what they’re seeing. But here’s the problem. Even the best eagle-eyed parents cannot monitor this stuff completely. My first clue was when my son dropped something he had heard on a Youtube video. The vile, hateful, vulgarity coming out of his innocent mouth made me cringe.

“Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.”

I could take it no more.

I had a conversation with a friend the other night. We’re part of a Catholic men’s group called Exodus 90. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been posting sporadically of late. Go look it up. Guys, if you’re looking for a kick in the rear, give this a shot. It’s like “Hey Catholic man, we know you love Lent… But wait, there’s more!” One of the goals is to break the things to which we are enslaved in life and for many of us the internet in all its nasty forms is one of those taskmasters. Ergo, we try to stay off EVERYTHING that is deemed non-essential or work-related. This friend mentioned how he had installed a Chrome extension to block his favorite sites. No, nothing to do with what you’re thinking. At least I hope not but even so, all the better for him to break that insanity. No, we’re talking things like Facebook, the Drudge Report, and cagneyandlaceyfanfic.com. I don’t judge. Also, the extension is capable of redirecting the browser to a different site…

So this morning I got this brilliant idea and I installed the extension on my laptop and then later on the other laptop we have. It’s slower but that’s a total first world problem.

This afternoon my lovely little girl plopped herself down on my bed with my Macbook, flipped open the lid, and looked around. She gave me a knowing glance as if to say “Something’s up here, Dad… You’re too calm given the fact I just absconded with your laptop and didn’t even ask.” I gave her a look as if to say “Just you wait, genetic minion, just you wait…”

I heard the tapping of little fingers.

And then I heard:

“ARGHHHHHHH! Daddy what did you do?!”

How’d she know it wasn’t a glitch?

I had long since made myself scarce by ducking into my closet for fear I’d laugh and ruin the whole thing. Stepping out I heard her, now in the kitchen, yelling to her brother:

“Daddy blocked Youtube!!! When I tried to watch Wengie I got sent to a livestream of Adoration at some monastery in England!”

That’s right, kiddos, I’d drop to my knees and start humming the Tantum Ergo if I were you.

Ah, technology and Jesus… For moments where Our Eucharistic King (even on livecam) makes an appearance in my day and helps me keep my children safe from predatory nonsense, I am very grateful.

O Salutaris Hostia… Protect my kids from low IQ tarts.

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